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June 1988

Ipecac: When Prevention Fails

Author Affiliations

UCLA 27434 Rainbow Ridge Rd Rolling Hills, CA 90274

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(6):595. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150060029019

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that 80% of all poisonings occur via ingestions.1 Emesis induced by ipecac is the most efficient, rapid method to empty the stomach.2 Experience demonstrates that active methodologies to reduce the incidence of toxin ingestions, such as repeated counseling of the caretaker, have had poor success rates.3 They require frequent education, which is generally not provided, accepted, or remembered.

Passive interventions are significantly more successful. The primary need is to promptly, efficiently, and safely remove the toxin from the gastrointestinal tract. The mean time from ingestion of ipecac to emesis is 20 minutes (this can be shortened by appropriately increasing the dose). This is significantly less time than it takes to bring the child to an emergency room or for the caretaker to obtain ipecac from a secondary source outside the home (assuming that

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